Today it's my pleasure to hand the blog over to author AnneMarie Brear to write about researching sagas.
Historical writers must know their eras well. A reader can tell when the author has done her research or when the author has fudged along the lines. You don’t have to bog down your novel with pages of details – you aren’t writing a textbook. Information dumps aren’t interesting.
Instead, you need to sprinkle all the little facts you know about those times throughout the story. Sometimes, all it can take is an extra sentence or two, or a description to set the scene for the reader, and it is those snippets of description that flavour your work and make it different to another’s.
I have researched my eras (Victorian, Edwardian/WWI) for years. So, each book is easier for me to write. However, I do more research as I write each novel, because each novel is different and requires different specific knowledge of an area or perhaps a trade, etc.
My sagas tend to have characters from the working class and high middle class involved, so I need to research how both of those classes live and work from how a country house and estate is managed to a coal mine or moorland farm. I need to create villages and make them typical for the era my book is set, or if my characters visit real town then I research that town through books and online primary sources and maps. (I have a love of old maps).
Some of my books have been set in the Edwardian and WWI eras, so I have done a lot of research about those interesting periods. For some years I have had a fascination of what is known as the First World War (1914 – 1918) This was a time of enormous change in the world. For the first time countries banded together to fight a common enemy. In my stories I do not go heavily into the politics of the time or the reasons why the war happened, that is for professional historians to determine, but the effects of the war were far reaching, and my characters are affected by it. In Great Britain the changes impacted on all walks of life, from the wealthy to the poor. Women were asked to step into the space left behind by the men who went to war. Not only did they have to work the men’s jobs, but they also had to keep the home running as well. Not an easy task to a female population who was expected to simply marry and have children and keep a nice house. Women of that time were sheltered from the world, innocent. All that was soon to change. I had to have my characters deal with a changing world, too.
Recently, I’ve written a series set in 1920s. The Marsh Saga Series is about three sisters, each book deals with one sister and this has been a new era for me to research. Book 1 is Millie’s story and her husband has PTSD from fighting in WWI and as this was something new to society, I had to have my characters deal with it in different ways. I researched some of the hospitals where returned soldiers went to be mentally assessed.
I love research, so it is no hardship for me to get involved in it. My study is full of reference books, diaries and maps and I have online folders of excellent research websites. Some of those websites include historical societies and council websites, which can be excellent sources for research.
Research will always be a big part of a writer’s life, thankfully I enjoy it.
Award winning & Amazon UK Bestseller AnneMarie Brear has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, travelling, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate - not always in that order! AnneMarie is the author of historical family saga novels.
Cece, the third book in the Marsh Saga Series, is published this Friday.
She’s the third sister, often overlooked and the last to know about anything that’s happening in the family.
Cece is gifted a cottage in the Scottish Highlands. She doesn’t want a cottage or to go to Scotland. Her sisters’ gifts were much more interesting.
When spurned by the man she loves, and tasked with selling the beloved family home, Cece believes she will never find the contentment her sisters enjoy. Despondent and alone, Cece learns that another ‘unwanted gift’ is suddenly very real and forces her to flee to Scotland and to the hated cottage, which proves to be nothing as she imagined. Old, rundown and in need of some tender care like Cece, the cottage becomes her bolt hole to lick her wounds and hide from the world.
Only, she didn’t plan on sharing her home with a runaway orphan or finding herself the interest of the local villagers, especially the school teacher who breaks through her barriers and makes her feel special, and there’s a certain brooding Highlander that she can’t quite work out.
However, just when Cece believes she might find her happy ever after, she is taught to take nothing for granted. Hurtful secrets are revealed, and happiness is destroyed. Who can she trust?
Then, when she is at her lowest, one man shows her that not all is lost.